By Carol Lim
The past week has a been special one for fans of India’s films and various Asian cultures in the Tampa Bay area. On Saturday, there was a celebration in the Channelside district of downtown Tampa for all. The City of Tampa and Hillsborough County also proclaimed May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Month. Mayor Bob Buckhorn was unable to attend due to other events at 11 a.m. Saturday. Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez represented Tampa at Asia Fest. Under a hot sun, many came to watch the performances and taste the food from Thailand, Viet Nam and China. Festival visitors say a smaller number of people attended this year. Asia Fest founder Dr. Kimi Springsteen says the Asian American Coalition of Florida volunteers worked with the International Indian Film Festival Academy to make all the events “one big Asian festival” this weekend. She also is the county’s Asian business liason. Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner described this week of festivals and IIFA or “Bollywood” as an historic one for the community. Ram Kafle and his family from Nepal were among many who visited the outdoor festival on Saturday.
From what they’ve seen in the past 4 years, Asian community leaders have seen more Asians and Asian Americans in the Tampa Bay area than recorded by the 2010 U.S. Census. They believe the most recent U.S. Census figures for Asians and Asian Americans locally are inaccurate. The U.S. Census in 2010 listed the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area as the third largest in Florida with an Asian population of 79,309. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hillsborough County had 41,420; Pinellas 26,450; Pasco County 9,618 and Polk County 9,518 Asians and Asian Americans. For more on the numbers, go to http://www.census.gov.
See Asia Fest 2014 video also at: http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1125543